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Discussion Starter #1
All right all you hot shot boaters, I'm looking for input on the right progression from class iv to class iv+ to class v- boating.
What is the most logical progression (or at least a good progression) for progressing from basic class iv (e.g., numbers at 1400 or lower clear creek at medium flows) to more difficult runs? From easier to harder, where would you rank the following runs and why?

Numbers at high water (above 2200)
Slaughterhouse at medium water
Dowd Chute at high water
Lower Clear Creek at high water
Upper Animas at medium water
Upper Animas Rockwood Box at low water
Clear Creek--black rock section at low flows, excluding Rigo
Bailey at low flows
Bailey at medium flows
Castle creek at medium flows
Poudre--middle narrows at medium water
Poudre--lower narrows at low water
Clear Creek of the Ark--low or medium flows
Cross Mtn. Gorge at medium flows
Gore Canyon at low water

For flow levels I guess I'd use those listed in CRC2 or WSR. Some of the ratings for these runs vary and I recognize that I've listed creeks and rivers and they are different. What say you??
 

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Huhh?

I dont see any reason to rank all these into any order, looks like your list is fine by the most part. Just know their all good stepping stone runs to harder classV.
 

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that's a good list but the order is off. for instance bailey and gore are of similar difficulty and both in the IV+/V- range depending on what you run. see the stepping stones link above.

also, are you a coloradowhitewater.org member? this is a great resource for paddlers looking to step up their game. they offer cruises led by more experienced boaters on runs they're familiar with in a laid back safety conscious manner.

dan
 

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....not a class5'er......

....i am not a class 5 guy but in this book i have next to my bed it says...."beware fellow boater, a long, highwater class 4 rapid may be more demanding than a standard issue, low-med flow pool drop class 5"......makes sense to me... thought i'd throw it out there....since we're on the point, how about a good progression back to class 4?......as to not destroy what bit of self worth one already has?......jrRANGER420cb....
 

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The stepping stones link is great, but there are several runs listed there that could be bumped up a level, at least in my mind - the following are my opinions:

Big South as Medium Class V? If you don't portage Cool World, Double Trouble and Slideways you are in Class V+ territory - CRC2 and WWSR call it V+. That sounds like hard V to me. Maybe I'm just pissed we flipped our raft in Slideways.

Pineview on the Poudre is class IV at most flows and at high water (>5') it is IV+. Not exactly my idea of intro to class IV. Same deal for Slaughterhouse, and CRC calls it V- at flows above 2700 - granted we don't often get that level. Probably should be medium class IV.

Upper Clear creek is manky (actually the entire thing is road blast), perhaps not an ideal place for an intro to class IV, and as the water drops the mank factor goes up. Solid class IV at most flows - 220 cfs is especially fun - rafts flip and dump truck all the time at lower beaver falls (although I hear that they moved a big chunk of concrete to make it a bit safer). CRC calls Dumont class IV at flows above 600 cfs, and it's getting Class IV+ above about 1000 cfs. It calls the Lawson(6 pipes bridge put-in) to Dumont section about a 1/2 grade higher - so IV, IV+, and V- at <600, 600-1000, and >1000. After guding there I would agree - Lawson is Medium IV at most flows, Dumont is Intro to IV. At high water both get moved up.

Running all of bailey as an intro to class V? Maybe in a kayak - the move at the top of Supermax in a raft is gonna be hard class V - assuming you make it without flipping or wrapping. This sounds more like mid class V to me.

Blackrock as an intro to V? w/o rigor maybe. With rigor its solid V.

What do you guys think? Other runs that should be moved? Disagree with my suggestions?
 

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Maybe in a kayak
This WAS created from a kayakers perspective... I have not done much of anything you are talking about so I am counting on others for input on stuff like this. I'll probably just add the disclaimers and cavats instead of moving things around to much, but you have a good point on BS at least I think.
 

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....i am not a class 5 guy but in this book i have next to my bed it says...."beware fellow boater, a long, highwater class 4 rapid may be more demanding than a standard issue, low-med flow pool drop class 5"......makes sense to me... thought i'd throw it out there....since we're on the point, how about a good progression back to class 4?......as to not destroy what bit of self worth one already has?......jrRANGER420cb....
nice, I'm in for a backwards progression as well.. how to go from class iv+ to class iii while saving a shred of dignity

milo, makes a great point too... my few days on gore I've seen more class v ass kickings in kirschbaums then all the other drops combined, sames true of climax on the russell fork... beware of the last drop even if it's just a "long class iv"
 

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3lee, there is no perfect river order to progress beyond class IV. In general taking small increases in difficulty and doing lots of varied runs at one difficulty level before stepping it up the next notch should yield the least amount of carnage. Going too big too early is a good way to scare the shit out of yourself, and slow down (or halt) your development. Take it slow and steady and you will do well.

As a generic progression, if you want to do some IV+, look for class IV runs with class IV+ rapids you can scout/walk. For your first taste of V- look for IV/IV+ runs that have V- rapids you can scout/walk.

A suggestion for stepping up to the next level is to first try to work the lower level to make harder moves. If you are running all the class IV's down the middle with no eddies or moves, try some harder lines, catching eddies in the middle of rapids, ferrying across rapids etc before you ratchet up to IV+/V-.

You may find that if you work hard enough on the familiar class IV runs that the first time you attempt IV+/V- rapids that things go smoothly. I routinely train on lower clear creek to keep me in paddling shape by catching lots of eddies, boofing lots of rocks, surfing every wave I can, and taking more difficult lines in easier water. Run rapids backwards, peel out from an eddy backwards, run a rapid sideways with nothing but braces. Working all sorts of skills in familiar territory is a solid way to develop.

From your list, clear creek (lower, upper, lawson), numbers, and slaughterhouse are all good class IV runs to hone your skills on. Try running as many different class IV runs as you can before you step up, it will pay dividends. If you bust ass on class IV and are styling harder lines, start thinking about gore/bailey/blackrock at the end of the season at medium to lower flows with a good guide.

The line between IV/IV+ or IV+/V- can often be fuzzy and water dependent. In general it feels to me that the lines get thinner and thinner as you get more and more difficult. A class IV on the numbers might be taken on with a line that could be 15ft wide and easy to hit. Maybe a IV+ might have a thinner line that is 5-10 ft wide. As you start getting into class V territory many lines become narrower and narrower such that there is a specific spot in the rapid that you want to be with less than a 5ft width line to hit.

A good way to practice getting this kind of precision with your line is to scout rapids, pick a very specific line, and then try to hit it. Did you make it? Why not? What feature screwed you up? How do you take on that feature correctly? Scout even familiar rapids that you don't need to and pick alternate lines, new eddies to catch, or harder lines. This will teach you how to look at a rapid, pick it apart and figure out the lines, which is needed skill on harder water.

Another good tip I learned along the way was to pay very close attention to where and when you take strokes. New to class IV boaters with a paddle hard attitude can get through most class IV with full steam ahead paddling regardless of whether the stoke falls at the crest or trough of a wave. Watch more seasoned boaters and notice that they take less strokes, time the placement so that the strokes move them through features that could alter the line, or use them for power, eddies etc. Try to start thinking about the number, timing, and location of strokes that you want to take to make a line. Be precise, and figure out why it didn't work if you don't hit your line as planned.

I guess in summary my thoughts are that progression from IV to harder runs is better thought of as skill specific vs. run specific. As you want to get into harder water, I'd practice lots of eddies, ferries, boofs, bracing, hole punching, rolling, and scouting.

Another though is that like most things, time and practice are key. Get 40 days of class IV under your belt this season and you should be ready for action on IV+/V-. Get 4 days on class IV and try to step up and you may be in trouble. A major variable in progressing is spending as much time in your boat as possible.

Not a hot shot, but this is pretty much what i did when I was moving through IV/IV+/V-, and it worked pretty well for me.

Final thought... take a swift water rescue class and make sure you have good safety gear. Even if you have taken a SWR before, its good to do refresher, especially if you can do it with a core group of buddies you paddle with. Crossing into IV+/V- usually involves some out of boat experiences and you want to be prepared.
 

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I'm not a class 5 boater but I've run pine creek and NF, upp and lower narrows on the Poudre at low water but here is my 2 pennies worth...I began teaching another boater on Upper mish through bridges & mid narrows on the poudre...That essentially ment me running everything backwards/sideways and real close to the newb to make sure they were comfortable. That was my real 1st time leading and having someone depend solely on me. That gave me alot of confidence to try harder things myself once I had to put myself in unfavorable lines to assure someone else they were ok.?.
 

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....since we're on the point, how about a good progression back to class 4?......as to not destroy what bit of self worth one already has?......jrRANGER420cb....
Milo, we need to do more boating next season. Maybe we can start with Escalante. Nice pool drop IV, then hike up to the truck before the gorge. Get the beer and the carton of eggs from the truck and then go back to the rim and throw them a la Gary E -style at all the nice kids running '57 below us. The next day we can just putt around on the dirtbikes.

BTW, If anyone's dad gets belligerent at our just trying to have a good time, the two of us together might be half as tough as GE (probably not though), so I bet we would come out of it okay.

Grandpa always told me: Never pick a fight with someone you don't know...just might be a cage fighter.

Meow
 

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more thoughts

my first response was kind've tongue in cheek, but deepsouth's response was so well thought out and articulate it inspired me to contribute

first, I think when you're stepping it up it's easy to get obsessed with rapid ratings, they're a good frame of reference and facilitate good discussions like this one, but in reality remember there are just two types of rapids the ones you run and the ones you walk

which brings me to a second point which has to do with walking. get good beta from friends, books, etc. - put-on with plenty of time and with patient paddling partners and do some hike assisted boating - as long as you're not paddling into the unrunnable, unscoutable, unportageable gnar it will be educational

I truly wasn't kidding about my compliment to deepsouth's post my favorite part that I would like to echo is to pick a line and make it happen - and most importantly be honest with yourself about whether or not you nailed it

the goal should be to clean it up not just survive - there's nothing more disgusting than watching a n00b run a rapid upside down, getting lucky they didn't bash their brains out, roll up at the bottom and holler and fist pump
 

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I am pretty much in your shoes. I have run all of the poudre ones, gore, bailey at a good flow, and some other IV+ V- stuff. The thing that I found to be most helpful was to practice all of your creeking moves on easier runs. Like others have talked about, boof every rock, surf every wave and catch every eddy and you will instinctively carry those skills into the harder stuff regardless of how gripped you might be.
 

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Below is my breakdown of the list you gave

Easy IV+
Numbers at high water (above 2200)
Slaughterhouse at medium water
Dowd Chute at high water
Lower Clear Creek at high water

Hard IV+/Easy V-
Poudre--middle narrows at medium water
Upper Animas at medium water
Upper Animas Rockwood Box at low water
Clear Creek--black rock section at low flows, excluding Rigo
Bailey at low flows
Gore Canyon

Hard V-
Cross Mtn. Gorge at medium flows
Bailey at medium flows
Poudre--lower narrows at low water
Castle creek at medium flows
Clear Creek of the Ark--low or medium flows

Notes: Run Gore around a 1000 your first time. It's a lot cleaner than 800 but still not pushy like 1200. The perfect friendly padded level for your first time. Definitely consider remoteness: Blackrock is harder than Gore but it's also roadside and escapable. The Upper A is easier but makes Gore seem roadside. Runs like Castle Creek and Clear Creek of the Ark are a lot more continuous than some of the others and require a higher level of comfort with read and run IV+/V-. Castle was woody as hell last season and not a place for a IV+ paddler looking to step it up. The link posted is pretty good.

COUNT
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks all

Thanks everyone for the great input. So if I understand everyone correctly, I should forget paddling the class IV stuff and just jump to Poudre Falls or North St. Vrain ;-).
Seriously though, I really appreciate the insight, particularly your comment deepsouth about conceptualizing progress as a skills progression rather than just a progression to more difficult runs. Great comment.
Count, thanks for the breakdown of my listed runs. I didn't list the Encampment but that is another run that I would like to run. Any thoughts there?
I know the runs I've listed all seem to fall into the class IV+ to class V- range (some exceptions), but I've always considered the jump from class IV to IV+ to be a full step up rather than just a half-step (cf. IV- to IV or III to III+), so I want to make sure the next step up is the right one. Time to make harder lines on my favorite class IV, focus on improving technique, and then take the plunge.
 

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Maybe deepsouth said it, I was kinda skimming, but along with the raw skill and practice comes a mental attitude. You need to know when you are on and when you are not. Good V boaters know when to take a break or walk a rapid. It has been said many a times but it is better to walk a rapid and live to paddle it again than to run it and f-up cause it was an off day. Trust me, I have had horrible days on easy runs like Bailey cause I was on my D- game, but I would walk and take a tampon. When I came back I felt good and ran everything clean no biggie.

I also have to agree with try teaching people or showing them the lines on runs. When you are first it just seems to crystalize everything, sometimes when I am in the middle I get that complacent feeling cause I know people got my back, kinda like when you drive across town but don't know how you got there. I know it ain't good but it happens. When you are taking 1st timers you have to be on point and I personally thinks it helps you see the rivers better.

That being said, from what I have ran on your list it all looks good. Progress at your own speed and don't be afraid to walk here and there. Try not to swim, but it will happen so know how to get yourself out safely
 

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Encampment is great. Just a long drive. IV(IV+) at medium, IV+(V-) at high. The parenthetical rating is for Damnation Alley the hardest single drop, but it doesn't stand out much only because things pick up steadily and cool down the slowly, too. This is my favorite river in "Colorado", but it's actually in Wyoming.
 
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